JeffCo air tanker base had to un-winterize for the Dome fire

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The JeffCo air tanker base at the Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport in Broomfield, CO had winterized their retardant system and had to put everything back together when the Dome fire broke out near Boulder on Friday. Here is an excerpt from the Broomfield Enterprise:

The U.S. Forest Service air tanker base at Broomfield’s Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport was nearly closed for the season when the crew got the call Friday morning to aid in fighting the Dome Fire west of Boulder.

The water pumps used to mix concentrated retardant and then load that slurry into air tankers had been dismantled to avoid damaged inflicted on the water lines by freezing overnight temperatures. When the call came, the crew sprung into action.

“We were up and going in 30 minutes,” said Robby Cline, the base’s assistant manager.

By 5 p.m. Friday, one heavy tanker and a smaller single engine air tanker had made a combined 16 drops on the 134-acre blaze, unloading 16,503 gallons of retardant, according to Cline.

At one point, officials at the front lines of the fire considered requesting a second heavy tanker fly in from California to assist in the efforts, Cline said, but the two planes working out of the base handled the job on their own.

“Our turns were going so fast, we were getting so much retardant on there, they said don’t worry about it,” he said.

The base’s heavy tanker won’t be flying Saturday; it flew back to a hangar in Grand Junction Friday night. The single engine tanker, based in Fort Collins, will be back Saturday, according to Cline.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

One thought on “JeffCo air tanker base had to un-winterize for the Dome fire”

  1. To reactive a winterized tanker base so quickly may seem insignificant unless you are the tanker pilots waiting and waiting for “things” to get moving. Nervously suggesting to the base manager that “we will take water” for the first load. To Manager Cline and the crew at Jeffco Tanker Base, great effort. The slurry being delivered by the tankers appears to be in excellent mixed condition. Well Done.


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